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Arrested: Former Porsche dealer who’s accused of stealing $2.2M from customers

Federal authorities have arrested the former executive at a South Florida Porsche dealership who disappeared in September after customers say he bilked them out of millions of dollars in deposits for 911 GTsupercars that they never received.

U.S. marshals on Tuesday arrested Shiraaz Sookralli, 44, the former vice president of marketing for Champion Porsche in Pompano Beach, Florida, the top-selling Porsche dealer in the U.S. He’ll likely face charges of mail and wire fraud and money laundering when he’s arraigned April 16.

Much of the story was spelled out in media reports and online forums last summer, but the FBI offers some new details in an arrest affidavit. It alleges that Sookralli received more than $2.2 million from around 30 customers that he routed into a shell account named Champion Autosports. The complaint says Sookralli spent tens of thousands of dollars on luxury vehicles and jewelry, nightclubs and restaurants around Miami after initiating the scheme sometime in 2017. The customers never received their Porsches.

The affidavit further describes interviews with former co-workers and employees of high-end nightclubs and restaurants in Miami who “confirmed that Sookralli frequently enjoyed an extravagant and opulent lifestyle. Bank records analysis shows that Sookralli amassed large tabs at these night clubs and restaurants that were paid with the proceeds of his fraudulent activity.” Further, despite being VP of marketing, Sookralli was found not to be an authorized Porsche salesman at the dealership and never reported his sales transactions to the sales manager at Champion Porsche.

Further, a lawyer for Champion Porsche managed to contact Sookralli on Sept. 10, 2018, days after he disappeared, and asked him if he had taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from customers. “Sookralli responded something to the effect of, ‘More like millions,'” the complaint reads. He also agreed in the conversation to send over a list of the customers from whom he’d taken money for deposits. The complaint does not say where Sookralli went after he disappeared.

The dealership filed suit in September against Sookralli, his wife, Vimla Sookralli; and the shell account it alleges he created, named Champion Autosport, to siphon off deposits. A lawyer for the dealer says it has reimbursed all of the affected customers, either by refunding their deposits or applying them to new vehicles.

Sookralli, who is married with 10 children, had credit card debt of more than $176,000 as of 2016, the Orlando Sentinel reports. He made his first appearance in federal court in Fort Lauderdale earlier this week and was to have a bond hearing Friday, according to the Miami Herald. He plans to plead not guilty.

Porsche 911 GT2 RS Sets New Fastest Lap at Road Atlanta

Porsche Targeting Production Car Lap Records Away From the ‘Ring

While the Nürburgring unarguably remains the de facto proving grounds for automakers to test the mettle of their performance halos, Porsche is also looking to conquer some of the most iconic North American racetracks with its production-spec 911 GT2 RS.

Late in 2017, a then-new Porsche 911 GT2 RS set the production car lap record at the ‘Ring but would have to fend off the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ in the title race by reclaiming victory in the later part of 2018.

Fast forward to a new year – and a new continent – where Porsche is now the away-team, with fixtures to take place at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Willow Springs International Raceway and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

Porsche has released footage (embedded below) of the 1:24.88 lap time set by the GT2 RS at Road Atlanta on March 26, 2019, which beat previous production car record holder – the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 – which achieved a 1:26.45 in 2018.

The 2.54-mile road course is located just 60 miles from Porsche’s U.S. headquarters in Atlanta and is “… a track that holds so many great memories for Porsche, such as the overall victory with the 911 RSR at Petit Le Mans in 2015,” said Klaus Zellmer, President and CEO of Porsche Cars North America.

Race drivers Randy Pobst and David Donohue shared driving duties for the day, with Pobst – having the honor of setting the fastest and record-breaking lap – remarking of his experience “Even for a professional driver, huge power can be intimidating. But when I drive the GT2 RS, the massive torque feels completely under my control, so useable, because the car is extremely well-balanced. It is very confidence inspiring, a pleasure”.

Porsche 911 GT2 RS

Porsche 911 GT2 RS

We will continue to keep you apprised of the Porsche 911 GT2 RS as it continues its trailblazing tour in America!

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Porsche 918 successor needs to do the ‘Ring in 6:30

When TopGear.com spoke to Porsche Motorsport chief Frank-Steffen Walliser at the LA Auto Show, Walliser provided the primary benchmark for brand’s next hypercar: a 6:30 ‘Nürburgring time. That would cut 27 seconds from the 6:57 time set by the 918 Spyder in 2013. Walliser’s so focused on that particular benchmark that he said, “I don’t care about the drivetrain, 6m 30s is the target. Sports cars are defined by their performance, then we have to look how to achieve it.”

The 918 Spyder used a 4.6-liter V8 with 608 horsepower, aided by two electric motors contributing another 281 hp, for a total system output of 887 hp and 944 pound-feet of torque. Since that lap in 2013, four regular production cars have gone faster: a Porsche 911 GT3 RS did 6:56.4 earlier this year, a Lamborghini Huracán Performante did 6:52.01 in 2016, the 911 GT2 RS took the record in September last year with a 6:47.25, outdone in July of this year by the current production-car record holder, a Lamborghini Aventador SVJ with a 6:44.97.

Unofficially, a 911 GT2 RS prepared by Manthey Racing ran the ‘Ring in 6:40.33 at the beginning of November. Last year, a road-legal McLaren P1 LM prepped by Lanzante pulled off a 6:43.2, and in 2015 a Pagani Zonda Revolucion supposedly tore off a 6:30. The 6:30 mark is also the target for the Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus 003 Stradale.

Officially, none of the four faster vehicles are hybrids, making Walliser’s powertrain-agnostic position interesting. We’d be shocked if Porsche’s coming hypercar weren’t hybrid; that would counter the general thrust of Porsche and the industry, and refute the last three OEM hypercars. Don’t expect something all-electric, either, Walliser admitting, “An electric car in 6m 30s is quite a challenge.”

The sports car maker will get a lot more practice finding what goes fastest with the launch of the GT2 RS Clubsport (pictured). Porsche expects the new customer race car to grace numerous tracks around the world, and the carmaker plans a trip to the ‘Ring next year. Walliser figures the new competition coupe can get down to around 6:35.

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